Posted by on January 11, 2017 in On Vacation - No comments

New Orleans Street Art, Murals & Graffiti Revisited

We’ll never grow tired of revisiting our mind-blowing five-month sojourn in the great city of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. From December 2014 until May of 2015 we here at I♥DM enjoyed the awe-inspiring privilege of living and working in the heart of the Crescent City, only a single block from the world famous Vieux Carré, and during that time we managed to amass a photo album of over 70 works of New Orleans street art, muralism and graffiti we considered worthy of sharing here with you. Though fine arts and interior galleries routinely overshadow the city’s modest street art and graffiti subcultures, earnest seekers will have no trouble finding small pockets of spray-painted glory in numerous neighborhoods, as well as fully professional, commissioned murals concentrated primarily in the Central Business District. Pride in local culture appears to be the preponderant theme of the Big Easy’s street art scene, and rightfully so. While some of the works included herein are sure to have been painted over by now, it’s likely in many cases that equally interesting pieces have been created in their stead. When it comes to outdoor art hunting we always recommend revisiting those locations that have borne fruit in the past. Go ahead and liberally apply that concept to life in general. You’re welcome. ~I♥DM

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Fittingly, our first exposure to New Orleans street art would be a tribute to the city’s jazz tradition in Mardi Gras purple, green and gold. This mural was created by local artist, Courtney “Ceaux” Buckley, and we shot it on December 23rd, 2014. We found it on the northeast side of a building at 247 S. Robertson Street that appears to waver between occupied and vacant:

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It wasn’t until more than a full month later that we discovered our first impressive grouping of graffiti-style pieces, on the northeast wall of the former home of ‘American Taxi’ at approximately 215 N. Claiborne Avenue between Iberville and Bienville:

Just a couple days later we discovered a work of similar quality about five blocks to the northwest, on the southeast wall of ‘Urban Express’ at 2131 Canal:

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Towards the end of January 2015 we came across a group of mostly unsigned works in the general vicinity of the northwest corner of Chartres Street and Elysian Fields, including the only photo-worthy examples of stenciling or wheat paste we found in any of our New Orleans explorations:

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In early February, while dining at Five Happiness in Gert Town, we encountered four excellent works of portraiture on the northwest wall of Atelier 504/Redbeard Cycles at 8022 Palm Street/8021 Orpheus Court, featuring standout pieces by local painters Saul Cruthirds and “Meek One”:

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We shot the following two pieces while aimlessly wandering the Marigny on the evening of February 10, 2015. The first is located at 2819 Chartres Street…..

…..and the second at approximately 2120 Decatur:

Who’s that supposed to be, anyway? Cee-Lo Green? Anyone? Anyone?

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While tooling around East Riverside on the afternoon of February 19th, 2015 we discovered a freshly painted batch of nine graffiti-style pieces on the west wall of 3715 Tchoupitoulas, which at the time was a bar but now appears to be either vacant or the office of a general contractor:

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A few nights later we explored the general area along Chartres Street where the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods meet. We found eleven photo-worthy pieces showcasing varying degrees of technique and skill. Here’s our first find, on the west wall of Wild Mountain Vintage at 3405 Chartres:

That’s the late Mr. Ernie K-Doe, for any of y’all that didn’t know already. The necklace is a dead giveaway.

One block directly to the west we found three more lovelies on the east wall of the building on the northwest corner of Chartres & Piety. Corrugated walls are always a bit tougher to paint on than flat, in our opinion, and these artists have done a wonderful job of making it work:

Just three more long blocks to the west, on the far east side of the parking lot of the National Rice Mill Lofts at Chartres & Montegut, we photographed five pieces upon the corrugated walls of a few industrial shipping containers strategically doubling as barricades between the Lofts’ parking area and the next parcel of land to the east:

The lone, seemingly abandoned building on that next parcel of land to the east served as the canvas for our last two discoveries on that particular evening, with large murals on the east and west walls, respectively:

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At the tail end of February 2015 we paid a late night visit to the Holiday Inn New Orleans at 330 Loyola to photograph a series of murals in their carport/valet area that depict scenes from the early days of the city’s world famous Jazz scene. According to local history, this area on the north end of the Central Business District is one of the very neighborhoods in which the style of music that came to be known as “Jazz” was born:

All six of these murals were painted by Louisiana native, Robert Dafford, who has created over 400 murals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe over the course of his career. Two more great examples of his work are included later in this post.

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In early March we headed back to the National Rice Mill Lofts at Chartres & Montegut to photograph the only interior works shown in this post. Given Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s legendary status as an unequaled progenitor of American street art, we felt these beautifully rendered tribute pieces warranted inclusion:

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In the second week of March 2015 we made a pilgrimage to Kermit’s Tremé Mother-In-Law Lounge at 1500 N. Claiborne Avenue. This world famous watering hole, founded by Ernie K-Doe himself, is covered on all sides by murals in multiple themes, including the life of K-Doe and wife, Antoinette, plus the musical, cultural and even political histories of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. We’re told local muralist Daniel Fuselier completed the works upon these walls in 2012 after seven dang years of goin’ at it. Much respect!

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We found this collaborative mural, by French painter “Kashink” and a couple other unidentified, presumably local artists, exactly one block to the northeast of the Mother-In-Law Lounge, on the northeast wall of ‘Boss Status’ at 1544 N. Claiborne Avenue:

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On Friday, March 13th, 2015 we took in a single day of a spectacular two-day music festival called “Buku Music + Art Project”, held annually on the grounds of ‘Mardi Gras World’ at 1380 Port of New Orleans Place. On the ‘art’ end of the action were a few live spray-painting demonstrations, and, due to far less than ideal lighting, we managed to capture just one quality still of the newly completed works on display therein:

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A couple days later we found this work by local artist, Shakor, along the walking path behind the French Market Shops on Decatur Street, between approximately 812 and 816:

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No idea where we discovered our second “Kashink” work, but we definitely shot it around midnight on St. Patrick’s Day 2015. Not fully remembering things is a common side effect of spending St. Patrick’s Day in the Big Easy:

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A few weekends later we stumbled across this hopelessly romantic piece while shopping at the open-air Frenchmen Art Market at 619 Frenchmen Street in the Marigny:

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As April rolled around and our time in New Orleans began to run short we made the effort to photograph what is most likely the single largest street art gallery in all of the metro area. “Exhibit Be” is located across the Mississippi River from the central city, in the Behrman neighborhood at the abandoned De Gaulle Manor apartment complex on the northeast corner of Sandra Drive and Murl Street. This massive outdoor art project debuted to the public in mid-November of 2014. An artwork by its primary organizer, local painter Brandan “Bmike” Odums, can be seen in the last photo at the bottom of this post, but we couldn’t tell ya exactly which pieces at “Exhibit Be” are his, if any. The derelict host property was fenced off to the public when we visited, so naturally the quality of our photographs suffered as a result. We give you the best we’ve got. Visit Odum’s personal website to see the very best photo gallery of this project’s creation and results we’ve found anywhere online. It’s far better than ours.

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In mid-April we came across this standalone piece on the northeast wall of a building on the west corner of N. Claiborne Avenue & Ursulines:

It was accompanied only by a caption that read: “Seahorses are endangered! Soon, only toys and souvenirs will be left!”

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Our third and final “Kashink” discovery in New Orleans:

Found on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny on the evening of May 3rd, 2015.

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In the closing days of our five-month New Orleans odyssey we went out of our way to thoroughly document two more epic Robert Dafford murals in the Central Business District. First we revisited the very same Holiday Inn at 330 Loyola, where we photographed Dafford’s depictions of the city’s early Jazz scene back in late February. We learned on that night that a colossal 16-story clarinet, also by Dafford, graces this hotel’s south wall. We took one shot of it and split on account of the cold. When we returned in mid-May we shot from every angle and, well, maybe we went just a bit overboard with the thoroughness? You tell us:

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Two days later we shot Dafford‘s idyllic homage to rural Louisiana life on the southeast corner of Magazine and Girod Street, in the heart of the Central Business District:

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As we made our way out of town on May 17th, 2015, at the outset of our two-day return trip to Metropolitan Detroit, we chanced upon what we later thought of as a wistful finale to our half-year long exploration of New Orleans’ myriad cultural scenes…..a very recently completed triumph featuring the likeness of very recently deceased local musician Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill, painted by “Exhibit Be” organizer, Brandan “Bmike” Odums. We’d seen Hill perform live with his band only one month earlier, at the city’s annual French Quarter Festival. Just a couple weeks later he died, at the way too young age of 28, while on tour in Japan. Rest in Peace, Travis Hill.

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About the author

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Dale Carlson grew up along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan, where at a young age Detroit called out to him in his dreams. In 2008, after extended stays in ten different Michigan cities, the author settled permanently in southeast Oakland County where he currently lives and works in various capacities within the local real estate industry.

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